• We have updated our Community Code of Conduct. Please read through the new rules for the forum that are an integral part of Paradox Interactive’s User Agreement.


Spirit of ‘82 (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines

Life after Revolution in the Commonwealth of Britain

An After Action Report for Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness (New Era Mod)
by DensleyBlair

Voted History Book of the Year, 2022 & 2023.
Last edited:
  • 1Like
Table of Contents

Author's Note

Synopsis: 1914–29

Synopsis: 1929–45

* * *


A Contingent State: Political Agency in the Making of the Commonwealth
E. P. Thompson, 1961

Baldwin, the trade unions and the Samuel Report (1926–27)
Anonymous, 1950

Herald of the World to Come (Mar–Sep 1927)
Raymond Williams, 1966

Voices of the Struggle: The General Strike, 30 Years On
dir. Marghanita Laski, CBC TV, May 1957

Remembering "Red Wadham"
Oxford, 1927

The Revolutionary Turn: The General Strike after London Docks (1927–28)
Eric Hobsbawm, 1947

A False Dawn: Memories of the General Election of 1928
Gladys Hatherley, 1953

The Broken Olive Branch: Ramsay MacDonald and the Counter-Revolution (Feb–Jun 1928)
Joan Wyatt, 1954

Revolution by Reason: The Origins of Mosleyism (1925–28)
A. J. P. Taylor, 1969

My Life
Oswald Mosley, 1965
The Labour Years, Part One (1924–28)
The Labour Years, Part Two (Mar – Oct 1928)
Building the Alliance (1928–29)

The In-Between State: Worker control during the General Strike (1928–29)
E. P. Thompson, 1973

"The Ugly Death of Labour Britain"

Talking Point, CBC 1, Feb 1979
Healey–Jenkins–Benn Discussion, Part One
"Operation Exodus" (nar. Vanessa Redgrave)
Healey–Jenkins–Benn Discussion, Part Two

“Operation Night Flight” (nar. Vanessa Redgrave)

* * *


Freedom From the Bottom Up: Political organisation under the CPGB (1929–34)
Marian J. Woods, 1971

The Mongrel Collective: Britain and the Global Economy, 1929–34
Robert Skidelsky, 1965

Millers Dale for Tideswell, pilot episode
CBC Wireless Service, 1934

The New World in Motion: Film in the Workers' Commonwealth
Wolf Mankowitz, 1961

Book Club at the Partisan
Will, Cord, et al., 1960

Leaving the Astoria: Memories of dance music after the Revolution
Francis Newton, 1956

Goodwill and No Compromise: Commonwealth diplomacy, 1931–34
E. H. Carr, 1952

The Red, The White, The Green: The Anglos in Newfoundland, 1929–44
Frances Ridsdale, 1950

For King, Country and Capital: The Counter-Revolution in Britain, 1930–34
Eric Hobsbawm, 1967
An Insidious Conspiracy (1930–33)
Cold Summer, Hot Autumn (1933–34)

Mosley Ascendant: A Brief History of the PLUA, 1934–36
A. J. P. Taylor, 1961

The Return of the Red Adder
Cook & Moore, CBC 2, 1970

A New Versailles: European diplomacy before the Spanish War
E. H. Carr, 1955

Hills of Red and Gold: Memories of the Spanish War (1936–39)
W. Parris Marr, Partisan Review, May 1940

A Popular Front: Anti-fascism at home during the Spanish War, 1936–39
Raphael Samuel, 1974

Guilty Men: A Cautionary Tale
"Cato", 1940

The Commonwealth of the Credulous: "Guilty Men" reviewed
George Orwell,
Partisan Review, Mar 1940

Looking Over the Shoulder: On the wars in Africa and Asia (1939–44)
Arthur Koestler, Partisan Review, Oct 1944

Flying in the Dark: A Counterfactual
Talking Point, CBC 1, Oct 1973

From Empire to International: Remarks on the occasion of Ghanaian Autonomy
C. L. R. James, 1945

Society Rebel Who Rose to the Presidency: Cynthia Mosley, 1898–1945
Daily Herald, 16 Aug 1945

* * *


Oswald Mosley: A Secret History
New Partisan Review, 1980

The Mosleyite Economy: Postwar economic reform, 1945–49
Robert Skidelsky, 1971

Selling Out: Industrial Relations in Mosley's Britain
Bert Ramelson, 1969
April Showers, May Flowers: Consequences of the 'Coldest Winter', 1946–47

Enemies Within: The 'managerialism' dispute, 1947–50

Total Control: Mosley's battles with the Left, 1946–51
Cordelia Bonner, 1966

Solidarity, Health and Freedom: Football in the Syndicalist International, 1946–56
Brian Clough, 1976

International Relations: A Diplomatic History of the Anti-Fascist Pact
E. L. Carr, 1970

The Italian Revolution, 1943–45
Developments in Europe, 1948–53

Generation Gap: Harold Laski's Popular Front (1948–54)
Michael Foot, 1968

A Shadow Over the Future: Socialist Youth after Orwell (1950–52)
Bertha Sokoloff, Searchlight, 1977

So Different, So Appealing: Architecture and Mosleyism in the 1950s
Jonathan Meades, CBC Radio 4, 1979

Still lives at Whitechapel
Will, Cord and John, Sep 1956

The Boothby Letter
Talking Point, 1981

Land Before Nation: Crisis and Autonomy in Kenya, 1950–56
George Padmore, 1954

1956: The Rise of the New Left
Eric Hobsbawm, 1976

The Road to Bucharest

* * *


1956: The Rise of the New Left
Eric Hobsbawm, 1976

The January War
The Secret Speech

A Common Future: The Birth of the European Syndicate
Roy Jenkins, 1977

Windscale: Crisis in Nuclear Britain
Rev. John Groser, 1966

The Windscale Crisis (1957–59)
A Government Diary, Dick Crossman, 1975

Morning Coffee at the Partisan
Ralph, Stuart and Cordelia, 1959

Look Back In Anger: The Birth of the Partisan Movement
Talking Point, 1974

Recollections of a Rebel
Bob Boothby, 1978

Red Adder’s Last Hurrah
Cook & Moore, CBC 2, 1973

Enter Bevan (1961–63)
A Government Diary, Dick Crossman, 1975

Nye Bevan's New Britain: A Retrospective
Kenneth Tynan, New Partisan Review, 1978

1964: Annus Mirabilis
David Widgery, New Partisan Review, 1974

Monitor: Cold War sci-fi special
CBC Two 1964

The French Connection: Interview with Roland Barthes
CBC Two, 1965

Battle for the Test Ban
Bertrand Russell, 1969

The Transatlantic Missile Crisis
Bertrand Russell, Sep 24 – Nov 3 1964
President Kennedy, Nov 30 1964

The Warsaw Agreement, Dec 9 1964
"The Cuban Project" Jan 22 – Dec 16 1964
Tito Intervenes, 12:00 Dec 18 1964
Boothby Speaks, 18:00 Dec 18 1964
"Exiles at outskirts of Havana", Dec 24 1964
"Mr Khrushchev's Christmas Speech", Dec 25 1964

"Stepping Away From Danger", Dec 25 1964 – Jan 1 1965

Redadder's Christmas Carol
CBC 2, 1973

Commonwealth 1965
A Trip to the Shops
A Day in the Life of John Tennyson
Louis Balfour's Jazz Club

Eye of the Storm: A History of the Cold War in the Bevan Years
Denis Healey, 1976
The Baltic Tango: Europe after crisis, Spring 1965
Hearts and Minds: Confrontation in South East Asia, 1964–66
The Anxiety of Autonomy: Trouble in Guyana, 1965–66
Transatlantic Blues: The Guyanese Emergency, 1966
Kith and Kin: Britain after empire, 1966

128 Days: The Decline and Fall of Bevanite Britain
Gwyn Alf Williams, 1980


6 O'Clock News with Tony Benn
CBC Radio 1, Mar 9 1967

The Death of Nye Bevan

The Power and the Glory: The invisible rise of David Lewis
Roy Jenkins, 1983

Scenes from the Lewis caretaker ministry
Daily Herald, 1967

Appendix: Press endorsements
1967 Election Results on CBC1
21:30 Thursday, May 4 1967
07:00 Friday, May 5 1967

The Longest Year: The Premiership of David Lewis
Roy Jenkins, 1983

Make This Your Commonwealth: Lewis in coalition
In Place of Strife: Lewis in the minority (I)(II)(III) – (IV)

* * *

by @99KingHigh


A People's History of the United States
Howard Zinn, 1980
Self-Help In Small Times (1922–29)


American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880–1964
William Manchester, 1978

Empire of the Fading Sun (1944–48)
Sunset Call (1949–52)

Domestic scenes from the MacArthur presidency
The New York Times, 1953–56


Six Thousand Days: Kefauver, Kennedy and the Frontiersmen in the White House
Arthur M. Schlesinger, 1971
Domestic excerpts, 1956–60
Domestic excerpts, 1960–63
Ordeal by Fire: The Bay of Pigs (1964)

Tangle in Indonesia: The Other Asian Crisis (1963–66)

The Birth of the American Age: U.S. Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad
Walter LaFeber, 1979
The Democrats in Europe and Latin America, 1956–60
Escalations in Indochina, 1961–64

Cuban Missile Crisis, 1964
Deterioration in Indochina, 1965–67

The Nuclear Delusion: Soviet–American Relations in the Atomic Age
George F. Kennan, 1976

The American–Soviet Relationship: A Retrospective (1960–63)

Notes on the Hot Summer (1967)
Walter Lippmann, 1971
Appendix: Wallace–Lindbergh campaign poster, 1968

Mitterrand on France and Indochina
Firing Line, 1968

Downward: America Before the Turn
William F. Buckley, Jr., 1976
Disaster on the Rao Quan
Which Way Rightward?
To Hell, Chicago and Back Again
The Northern Strategy (I) – (II)

* * *


List of elections to the People's Assembly of the Commonwealth since 1947

Map of Europe, 19 January 1956

Map of Central America and the Caribbean, 1966
Last edited:
  • 2
  • 1Like
Author's Note

Back, and ready for it all over again!

It’s been almost four years since I last started an AAR. Tellingly, it’s been three and a half years since I last updated one. Since then my time for Paradox games has been scant, and any writing I’ve done has been almost universally academic.

But the urge to get back on the horse never entirely left. Ignoring all good judgement and past form, I’ve decided – foolishly, perhaps – that this is going to be the summer where I finally start writing for pleasure again. The impetus stems largely from having re-installed Vicky 2 about a month ago and trying out the New Era mod. On my first play through, I gave myself the goal of somehow flipping the UK communist and riding out the revolutionary storm. In the event, the game only lasted about a decade before everything went “full Vicky” and things got a bit too crazy to even try post-rationalising. But the ten years I did manage set off a spark in my brain, and before I knew it I had a whole new world fleshed out. Which, four weeks of drafting and planning later, is how I end up here.

Echoes of a New Tomorrow draws on one brief session of gameplay, playing as the UK between 1920–1935. I have taken an incalculable number of liberties with plot and history; all I hope is that the result manages to hold itself together with a discernible internal logic of some sort. That said, this is not an academic exercise, nor am I anything beyond an amateur historian of the period: there will be jarring moments, I am sure. I only ask that you indulge me when they occur. Naturally, I invite all discussion about alternative possibilities to those I present – particularly where my own timeline is less fleshed out.

Reflecting my own need for structural flexibility, updates will likely be relatively short and come in a variety of flavours. I’m not aiming for strict chronology, rather a sort of collection of sources that gradually builds up a picture of the world I imagine to have developed from the initial gameplay. With any luck, this will leave me able to at least make decent progress before external circumstances inevitably catch up with me and I’m forced to take what I will euphemistically call a “break from writing”.

I am of course indebted to numerous people, both on these boards and off. While I wasn’t there to see it at the time, Meadow’s The People’s Flag remains an obvious point of reference, both in terms of form and content. Four years after I last thanked him for it, @LordTempest ’s counsel is still greatly appreciated. I should also mention my gratitude to @99KingHigh for pretty much single-handedly keeping me around the forums for the last couple of years. Finally, while I have never played it myself, the scenario I’ve set up here will invite inevitable comparisons to Kaiserreich. Although a number of similarities are coincidental, I would be lying if I said that KR lore hadn’t fed into the planning of my own scenario. All the work the KR team put into developing their universe is gratefully acknowledged.

To those of you kind enough to join me for the ride, my lasting gratitude. Hopefully this will be enjoyable for all of us. :)

Last edited:
  • 1
A Contingent State: Political Agency in the Making of the Commonwealth




It has become popular amongst certain sections of the Communist leadership in recent years to celebrate the arrival of the Commonwealth as an inevitability. Now three decades removed from the extraordinary moment of class consciousness that, in immediate terms, set off the conditions necessary for the transformation of the British polity, it becomes easy – for those so minded – to fall into traps of historicism and dialectical materialism. Stripped of all contingency, the achievement of a government of the working class in Britain is remembered not as the complex realisation of social relations that it necessarily was, but as a final and paradisiacal reward given in recognition of services rendered by the working class after 1927. As the Commonwealth enters its fourth decade, this sort of romanticised thinking not only suffers the ignominy of delusion, but also itself threatens the continued possibility of class consciousness as an agent factor in the government of Britain.

On terms purely historical, one might first raise objection to the idea of an inevitable revolutionary British state on the grounds that the very revolutionary nature of the British government since 1929 is a muddied matter indeed. Undoubtedly, the re-organisation of government between January and May 1929 was the result of an extraordinary campaign of direct action, motivated primarily by a level of working-class consciousness the likes of which had been unseen in Britain for a century beforehand. Yet the question of the “revolutionary moment” remains vexed. The fantastical nature of the idea of a Commonwealth as inevitable as the tripping of a switch – from bourgeoisie to proletariat, if you like – is easily proven by the lack of consensus on so simple a matter as the date on which the United Kingdom was finally taken by the working class. Romantics may offer February 25th, 1929, pointing to the heroics of the storming of Cliveden – though few would seriously argue that by this stage Britain remained under the government of the bourgeoisie on anything but a formal level. A more pragmatically-minded answer might be the first day of the General Strike on May 23rd, 1927 – yet here, too, one runs into difficulty. Any categorisation of the leadership of the TUC as “revolutionary” before August of that year is suspect, and there can be little genuine suggestion that this commitment to industrial action pre-supposed the toppling of bourgeois rule in the United Kingdom.

Thus one is instead confronted by the necessity of viewing the transformation in Britain during the last years of the 1920s, from government by the bourgeoisie to government by the working class, as in large part contingent. That is to say, it is only through a complex and murky network of social – indeed, human – relationships that a picture of “revolution” can begin to be built. A great deal of these relationships, including all of those between the millions of men and women who engaged in direct action against the agents of Capitalism, may be rightly said to have been forged within a web of working-class consciousness. The importance of this class consciousness amongst all other agent factors during the “revolutionary turn” is beyond doubt. Yet to suggest that this is all that is needed for revolution presents a dangerously reductive view of history. There is no mathematical equation that governs class relations; to imagine the working class as a “thing” which, somehow, at some point reaches critical mass and simply overwhelms the bourgeoisie is a gross misreading of Marx’s own writing. The relationships between agents of each class must also be considered. Thus revolution is predicated not only on relationships of solidarity, but also on the numerous “counter-relationships” of vanity, malice, cravenness, naïveté, and so on. It does not demand too great a stretch of credulity to imagine a counter-scenario in which, for example, the armed men of the Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies held their nerve on Black Thursday, and thus subsequently gave little impetus for the middle class to desert the counter-strike effort as they did. In this way, without making light of the situation, it must be conceded that always at play in historical considerations of political change is the considerable rôle of fortune.

Having thus established the formation of the Commonwealth as contingent, it follows that the fact of the Commonwealth should in some way thus be equally contingent. Put another way, unlike other polities born of revolution – whether proletarian or otherwise – the Commonwealth at its inception lacked any given set of pre-conceived values. Painting the formation of the Commonwealth as a study of ideological revolution is gross revisionism; the arrival of working-class government in Britain came, eventually, after the combined effort of millions of men and women against very immediate material injustices. While often this was a conflict against ownership and expropriation, led in many cases by avowed Communists, the revolution was not inherently Marxist. Therefore neither was the Commonwealth a Marxist polity in the first instance, even if the effects of its inauguration could be said to resemble very closely the results of Marxist praxis. Even in describing the worst excesses of the statist philosophy de rigueur amongst government circles during the Forties and Fifties, one would be hard-pressed to make a serious case for the existence of a particular governing ideology akin to, to take an obvious example, the Stalinism of the Soviet Union. If there is anything approaching a national character of the Commonwealth – and this, I argue, is contentious – something of it may be found in the twin fights against Capitalist ownership and Fascist brutality waged during the 1930s. But this, still, is not a grand philosophy.

There is, of course, no call for a state to be guided by any grand philosophy. The intellectual flexibility offered by the absence of any such foundational essence is almost always advantageous. Yet at the same time one must be alert to the risk that an opposition to Capitalism that is basically contingent is, inherently, insecure. The Communist Party have been bothering themselves privately for over thirty years with the vexed question of whether Chairman Mosley is a comrade. Now that he is out of office the point is moot, but any serious analysis of his policy brings up little real evidence of an opposition to Capitalism per se, beyond an enduring sense of working-class solidarity. Indeed, it might be reasonably said that “Mosleyism” seeks less the abolition of Capital than its total subjugation to the needs of the working class. To this end, there has been a revolution of a sort in Britain concerning the ownership of Capital – but there has been no revolution against ownership. Examining the speeches and writings of A. J. Cook, George Hardy, and others from amongst the leadership of the first General Strike reveals, naturally, that such a drive against ownership was in the end present in the minds and the aims of the working-class movement. Yet these men, ultimately sidelined during the settlement of a new, working-class state, were denied the opportunity to transform their words into deeds. Thus the Commonwealth is in great part a study in incomplete revolution. If this seems self-evident – no revolution is ever truly “complete” – then consider the peculiar nature of the incompleteness of the revolution that gave birth to the Commonwealth: a new politics, crafted in speech and act by an almost entirely Communist leadership, backed by somewhere in the order of 2 million conscious members of the working class, was instead co-opted by an adjacent strand of the labour movement. During the period 1929–1934, syndicalist management of the economy remained dominant and there was a great shift generally from bourgeois to working-class ownership of the means of production. But those who favoured worker ownership were marginalised during the latter half of the decade, and there was little real argument when, faced by the economic and political challenges of the 1940s, Mosley initiated the restructuring of the British economy along more managerial lines. The programme of nationalisation enacted during the second half of the 1940s all but confirmed the triumph of “management Capitalism” in Britain, paving the way for the emergence of a bureaucratic class in the last decade. It is easy to forget, recent history considered, that the Commonwealth has not belonged to the workers in name for over twenty-five years.

Therefore one arrives at the present situation, where it is fashionable to talk about the management of the economy not in terms of social relationships, but rather as an abstracted, ahistorical phenomenon. The working class has largely disappeared from political discourse, even if its agents continue to furnish the British economy with virtually all of its impetus. While the appointment of a new chairman of the executive committee offers the glimmer of a possible return to a policy of government more sympathetic to the agency of the working class, it is now three decades since Chairman Bevan played any great part in the direct organisation of class activity. Indeed, he has spent the last two decades defending the rôle of the state in economic management and, while undoubtedly a friend of the working man, retains all of Mosley’s ambivalence towards out and out Marxism. The erstwhile director of the Bureau of Coal comes from a long line of British socialists whose conviction is energised more by moral necessity than intellectual clarity. This is not to say that the Commonwealth requires a newly academic Communist theory – far from it. But a socialist state that forgets its opposition to Capital on the basis of Capital’s violent effect upon social and class relations risks forgetting its opposition to Capital wholesale. Once the mythic belief is allowed to settle, that the Commonwealth has tamed Capital through rigorous management, the door is opened for the return of supposedly neutered market forces. With this uncertain barrier between Capital and the Commonwealth overcome, it would hardly seem a stretch to conceive of a scenario in which the present armistice between the two systems thaws into outright alliance; where price– and wage controls contrive to create a sort of entente between socialist management and market consumerism. Hence the emergence in recent years of the counter-revolutionary “Pop” philosophers, whose principally artistic and aesthetic exercises proclaim that the success of the road to working-class liberation requires only the arrival of an Austin A50 on every driveway. This is of course identical in character to the promise of the market, that every working man be free to buy for himself a better existence, and presumably accompanies a desire to see the Commonwealth far more aligned internationally to the the United States and the German Reich. Thankfully, this market cult remains only an eccentric presence at the fringes of political thought.

Instead, the Marxist Left in Britain is tasked with far greater urgency than at any point during the last thirty years with the re-energising of the case against ownership and exploitation. The seed of a true working-class state present for a brief period at the start of the 1930s must be uncovered, nurtured, and allowed to germinate. Lessons from Moscow are quite clear, that the road of managerialism is merely the road to worker exploitation by another name. A re-appraisal of the history of the Commonwealth, beyond the level of the abstract, as a history of social and economic relationships will do good work in re-establishing the centrality of working-class agency to the operation of British politics. The vital work of transforming this newly enlivened historical analysis into political praxis at the highest levels of government falls, necessarily, to other activists. Nevertheless, it is in this hope of re-awakening a communising consciousness, dormant for three decades, that I have set out here to construct the beginnings of a foundation on which the intellectual case for the liberation of the working class from the reins of bureaucratic management may be built. In this way, there remains a truly anti-Capitalist future for the Commonwealth.


Edward Palmer Thompson (b. 1924) is an English historian and activist in the Marxist tradition. His work on revolutionary tendencies in Britain emphasises the importance of personal agency over more dogmatic, abstract interpretations of historical forces. Since 1957 he has edited The Reasoner along with John Saville, in which rôle he has emerged as one of the leading critics of managerialism and bureaucracy in the Commonwealth government.

The above essay was first published in The Reasoner in Autumn 1961.
Last edited:
  • 4Like
  • 1Love
This interests me, subscribed! And I liked your previous AAR as well. :)
  • 1Like
An excellent start Dens, you've managed to capture the feel of Thompson's prose quite well. The real treat of any alt-history AAR is in the world-building, and I'm enjoying the little morsels (Chairman Bevan, German Reich) you've offered up so far. I'm not sure how I feel about Oswald Mosley apparently being this timeline's Attlee, though.
  • 1Like
This interests me, subscribed! And I liked your previous AAR as well. :)

Thanks Loup! Communist Britain would truly be Communist Britain unless I had you along for the ride. :p

An excellent start Dens, you've managed to capture the feel of Thompson's prose quite well. The real treat of any alt-history AAR is in the world-building, and I'm enjoying the little morsels (Chairman Bevan, German Reich) you've offered up so far. I'm not sure how I feel about Oswald Mosley apparently being this timeline's Attlee, though.

Cheers Tanz. I've only ever read little bits of Thompson so glad my attempted mimicry gets the seal of approval. I'm trying not to be too heavy-handed dropping in hints about the world to come, but I enjoy the challenge of seeing what I can get away with. Mosley isn't quite Attlee (or at all, actually), but he's certainly a very different figure to OTL. I'm still working over the exact details of his character after about 1934 but with any luck I'll manage to pull something off as I go along.

Now, without further ado, here's to keeping up momentum!
  • 1
Baldwin, the trade unions and the Samuel Report (March 1926 – January 1927)

Following the consolidation of working-class control over the organs of state in the period after 1929, an immediate effort was made towards the radical reform of the education system in Britain. Private education was abolished by the executive committee in 1930 and plans were drawn up for the total reorganisation of both the school system and the curriculum. In 1931, the national curriculum was overhauled after the adoption by the Department for Education and Schools of a report chaired by Professor R. H. Tawney, at that time the director of the Institute for Economic and Historical Research at the London School of Economics and later the chairman of the executive committee of the University of London. Under the new system, which replaced the old School Certificate, pupils would sit a broad range of exams for the Certificate of General Education (CGE) at age 16. Those who stayed on until the age of 18 would is it exams for the Certificate of Higher Education (CHE), which allowed for a greater degree of academic specialisation according to a pupil’s strengths.

Reproduced below is an paper from the CHE course on Contemporary British History, taken by pupils in May 1950. The Contemporary British History course was introduced to cover the history of Britain from the establishment of the Commonwealth. (A separate course dealt with British history up to 1929.)


Q1. Outline the recommendations of the Samuel Report (March 1926), and describe the main objections raised against it by A. J. Cook and the Triple Alliance. Explain briefly the consequences of the report for both the government and the leadership of the TUC.

Following persistent problems in the coal industry after the end of the Great War, in July 1925 Conservative prime minister Stanley Baldwin announced the formation of a royal commission to investigate the state of the mines. The commission would take nine months in its investigation, and would be headed by Liberal politician Herbert Samuel. While its work was ongoing, Baldwin promised that his government would provide subsidies to the mine owners in order to avoid a cut in miners’ wages. This concession was achieved in part thanks to pressure exerted on the government by the Triple Alliance, a unified bloc made up of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain (MFGB), the National Union of Railwaymen and the National Transport Workers’ Federation.

When the Samuel Commission’s report was published in March 1926, it was a disappointment to the trade unionist movement. The Samuel Report supported almost all of the Baldwin’s government’s aims with regard to the mining industry, and was welcomed by the Mining Association – a group representing the interests of the mine owners. The industry faced twin problems of productivity and profitability. Productivity was at a record low, with annual output per man down over 100 tonnes since the Great War, when heavy domestic coal consumption and reduced exports had weakened the industry at the expense of countries like Germany, Poland and the United States. In order to remain profitable in the face of this decline, mine owners had embarked upon a sustained campaign of wage reduction: by 1927, wages were down over a third relative to the start of the decade. A previous commission, set up in 1919, had recommended the nationalisation of the coal industry, though this conclusion had been rejected by David Lloyd George, prime minister at the time. The Samuel Report did not repeat this recommendation. Instead, the commission advised large-scale reorganisation of the coal industry on a national scale. For the mineworker, this would entail a reduction in wages of 13 and a half per-cent and an increase in the working day from seven to eight hours. Government subsidies to mine owners would also be stopped.

Despite being largely in line with the government’s own aims, Baldwin feared widespread disruption to an already-beleaguered coal industry and did not immediately assent to the commissions recommendations. Under the renewed threat of strike action by A. J. Cook and the Triple Alliance, the government announced their intention to strike a compromise agreement with the trade unions. In the meantime, subsidies would be continued for another six months. As general secretary of the MFGB, Cook led objections to the report, summarising his position and the position of his union with the slogan “not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day!” He expected to be given a place at the negotiating table in order to argue the case for his union members. Instead, he was sidelined by the more moderate leadership of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), who feared that Cook would deliberately try to sabotage talks in order to spark a general strike in an attempt to bring down the government. Thus Baldwin held talks with Walter Citrine, at that point the interim general secretary of the TUC, and Herbert Samuel himself.

The move to delay a settlement for another six months was also unpopular in parts of the government. Winston Churchill was deeply angered by Baldwin’s willingness to engage with the trade unionist movement and believed that some sort of confrontation was inevitable. Churchill welcomed the possibility of a strike on the basis that it would give the government an opportunity to defeat radical socialism in Britain once and for all. He was confident of the strength of the state to withstand direct action by the trade unions and counted upon the unquestioning support of the bourgeoisie. Although his particular militarism was not widespread, Churchill’s confidence was somewhat justified: in early 1927 there was little apparent appetite for revolution in Britain and the middle classes were generally suspicious of working-class organisation. Churchill acted on this belligerent attitude by drawing up plans for the formation of an Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies (OMS). The OMS was to be a counter-strike force made up of members of the services and volunteers from the bourgeoisie. Its job would be the preservation of order and the infrastructure of the British state in the event of direct strike action, including duties such as manning transport systems and even keeping open the collieries. The extent to which Baldwin knew about Churchill’s plans is unclear, but it is evident that Churchill essentially had free rein in directing the government’s response to a general strike. This split in responsibility would later prove an important factor in the fall of the Baldwin government.


Winston Churchill, surrounded by working men with his wife and son in 1926. Just months later, he would have a hard time going near any working men without considerable protection.

In September, a compromise agreement between the Baldwin government and the TUC was published. The September Compromise repeated many of the recommendations of the Samuel Report, albeit with some added measures to better protect and compensate mineworkers. A national minimum wage would be instituted, to be controlled by an independent Wage Board, and the government would commit to finding alternative employment for miners made redundant during restructuring. In return, government subsidies would finally end at the end of September.

Mine owners were reluctant to assent to the proposed reforms and strongly opposed any attempt by Baldwin to put restrictions on the mining industry. The compromise was also rejected by A.J. Cook and the Miners’ Federation, who were angered both by the lack of protection against pay decreases and the insistence on an increase to the length of the working day. Cook viewed Citrine and the TUC as having gone behind the miners’ backs, and renewed threats of strike action if wages were reduced and the seven-hour day extended. This proved pivotal to the internal politics of the TUC, and widespread dissatisfaction with Citrine as a result of the Compromise led to his candidacy to be the permanent general secretary of the Congress being challenged at the end of September. Citrine was challenged by Tom Mann, chairman of the National Minority Movement (NMM), a group backed by the Communist Party whose aim was to increase the organisation of radical socialist elements within the existing trade unionist movement. Citrine took 55 per-cent of the vote to defeat Mann, but many people were surprised at the strength of the NMM. Mann hailed his defeat as proof of the increasing desire for radical change within the workers’ movement in Britain. Evidence of a growing split in the leadership of the TUC was clear, and for the first time a picture emerged of the true strength of the radical fraction of the trade unionist movement in Britain.

The Samuel Report was thus ultimately instrumental in exacerbating existing tensions within the leadership of both the TUC and the Conservative Baldwin government. For the trade unionist movement, the report revealed the divide between those who wanted radical change to the condition of the working class in Britain, and those who favoured a moderate system of entente with the government in exchange for more piecemeal reform. For the government, the report sowed the seeds of division between Baldwin, who wanted to avoid a strike, and Churchill, who wanted to weaken the trade unionist movement through direct action. In both cases, the events surrounding the formation of the Samuel Commission and the publication of its recommendations can be considered pivotal in the history of Britain’s transition from a state ruled by the bourgeoisie to a state controlled by the working class.
  • 3Like
  • 1Love
While you said in the authors' note that this AAR is for you a pause from academic writing, you still managed to include a paper for an education degree in the AAR, so now everything that is missing is the teacher assigning you marks. :p Not that I dislike the style, I found it both original and interesting, but now I also want to read the answers to the rest of the questions. I guess the hints they themselves give will suffice as a cliff-hanger for now.
  • 1
Reading this gives me the feeling of soaking in a nice warm bath at the end of a long day - lots of good feelings :D
  • 1
It just wouldn't be a Commie Britain AAR without a bit of obligatory Winnie-bashing to set the scene. Eagerly anticipating the revolution proper.
  • 1Like
While you said in the authors' note that this AAR is for you a pause from academic writing, you still managed to include a paper for an education degree in the AAR, so now everything that is missing is the teacher assigning you marks. :p Not that I dislike the style, I found it both original and interesting, but now I also want to read the answers to the rest of the questions. I guess the hints they themselves give will suffice as a cliff-hanger for now.

Ah yes, well. We never quite escape our daily surroundings. :p That said, trying to write an essay in the style of an exam answer given by an 18 year old from 1950 did present its own, unique challenges. (And for those interested, yes I did actually stick to the time limit. :p)

Needless to say, not all updates will be that dry (I hope). I'm sort of easing into things before letting loose. My aim is to be a bit more limbered up by the time I come to write the juicy parts of the revolution itself.

Reading this gives me the feeling of soaking in a nice warm bath at the end of a long day - lots of good feelings :D

That's an incredibly nice thing of you to say! Thanks, stnylan. It's great to have you around, and I hope you enjoy the ride.

It just wouldn't be a Commie Britain AAR without a bit of obligatory Winnie-bashing to set the scene. Eagerly anticipating the revolution proper.

Oh don't you worry, there's plenty more Winnie bashing where that came from. We haven't even started yet. :p

I've got another piece ready to go so expect that at some point later. That takes things forward in time a little bit, though I'm planning on going back in and fleshing out bits that deserve fleshing out properly. Owing to the limited nature of gameplay I have to work with, in the interests of keeping enough tasty plot devices for this to be sustainable I'm trying to find a decent balance between foreshadowing, hint-dropping from "the future", and actually just telling the story of the revolution. It won't always be chronological, but I'm planning on circling back to stuff. Please do let me know if there's anything that crops up that you'd be interested to read a full update on and I'll be sure to fit it in somehow. :)

In the meantime, thanks to those of you who've jumped aboard already. If there's anyone else lurking in the Vicky forums nowadays (and I appreciate there may not be many of you... things have changed a bit since I was last here, it seems) then don't be afraid to surface with a comment. All interaction, however small, is greatly received!
  • 1
(And for those interested, yes I did actually stick to the time limit. :p)

I don't know whether to be more impressed or concerned by your steadfast commitment to alt-historical accuracy.

Owing to the limited nature of gameplay I have to work with, in the interests of keeping enough tasty plot devices for this to be sustainable I'm trying to find a decent balance between foreshadowing, hint-dropping from "the future", and actually just telling the story of the revolution. It won't always be chronological, but I'm planning on circling back to stuff. Please do let me know if there's anything that crops up that you'd be interested to read a full update on and I'll be sure to fit it in somehow. :)

A televised debate between Roy Jenkins and Denis Healey over which prominent turn-of-the-revolution political figure bears the most responsibility for the destruction of the old order, (and why it is/isn't Asquith) set in a repurposed grammar school with Tony Benn presiding.
  • 1
  • 1Like
Herald of the World to Come, from The Language of the Revolution (March – September 1927)




If culture must be understood with reference to its underlying system of production, it follows that, during the period of the General Strike of 1927, the culture of Britain experienced a profound shock. As in politics, this shock was only one early articulation of a longer, more lasting revolution in cultural production as the economic base of Britain shifted. It is thus not possible by, say, the end of A. J. Cook’s “fifteen weeks” – the period from the end of May until the start of September, 1927 – to claim the existence of any settled, “new” culture in Britain. This is in many ways an impossibility; culture is never settled, and is in many ways resistant to discrete qualification, although for the purposes of analysis it is not unhelpful to categorise a culture of the Commonwealth as distinct from the culture of the ancien régime achieving dominance from about 1932 onwards. Nevertheless, by the time of the publication of Fifteen Weeks on September 6th, 1927, it is possible to identify the existence in Britain of a strengthened, emergent culture of working-class consciousness. This may be seen, as clearly as through the lens of contemporary political or economic analysis, by recourse to analyses of key texts from the period.

By “text”, of course, I mean to encompass acts of both the spoken and the written word. The role played by both media in shaping class consciousness on both sides of the revolutionary struggle for the formation of the Commonwealth is hard to overstate. As I will argue, some of the greatest successes of the revolutionary fraction of the trade unionist movement in their goal of increasing militant sentiment across the wider working class were intimately involved with language. The great linguistic and rhetorical abilities demonstrated by numerous activists within the fraction, on many occasions during the period leading up to the the takeover of the TUC by militant figures, was in large part operative in mediating wider opinion of the trade unionist movement in the eyes of the (bourgeois) public.

In this campaign, two main textual sources may be considered predominant: the Daily Herald, the official newspaper of the TUC later co-opted by the militant tendency, and the numerous speeches given by militant leaders to large crowds of striking workers. As a secondary source, slogans derived from both of these sources proved an immensely powerful tool in engendering solidarity amongst the striking working class, and also in courting the favourable opinion of those elements of society less immediately predisposed towards revolutionary sentiment. The texts generated by the government’s own newspaper, the British Gazette, are of course equally revealing.

Of course, the counter-revolution also had use of a full arsenal of rhetorical and linguistic tools. Most telling surely are the repeated entreaties made to legal precedent and the opinion of the courts. The hapless attempts of the Baldwin government to define the terms of engagement between the workers’ movement and the British state, usually in blind contradiction of the material situation as it stood, climax memorably in the infamous ruling by Mr Justice Astbury on September 1st, 1927 that “no trade dispute may exist between the Trades Union Congress and the government of the nation.” It is surely no coincidence that A. J. Cook’s profoundly influential Fifteen Weeks, a tour de force of militant authorship, rolled off the presses only five days later. The message of the trade unionists to the government was clear, that the government had lost control of the narrative. (The accompanying logical conclusion that the workers’ movement was therefore above the law was left murkily less explicit.)

Prior to this pivotal event, the Baldwin government had called upon the service of a raft of less final legal devices to exert its control over the situation. When a meeting of transport workers in Dundee was broken up by police in March 1927, most of those arrested were charged not only with unlawful assembly but also with incitement. The men had met to discuss the possibility of organising a sympathy strike in solidarity with miners locked out of their collieries in County Durham. In this case, it is worth noting that the government’s heavy-handedness backfired in no small part thanks to the successful propagandising efforts of the Herald, which ran an article alleging that Winston Churchill had personally ordered the arrests in retaliation for his treatment by the people of Dundee during his brief spell as Liberal MP for the town at the start of the decade. This marked the start of the Herald’s impassioned campaign of alerting its readers of the existence of a plot, directed by Churchill, against their existence. This remained a consistent background influence on the attitudes of those in the trade unionist movement until the eruption of open conflict between workers and the state on Black Thursday that June. Unquestionably, the heightened class consciousness of large sections of the TUC membership in the months before the National Minority Movement called its National Conference for Action at the start of May contributed in no small part to the unanimous resolution of direct action made by conference delegates.


Motorcycle dispatch riders stand by outside the TUC headquarters in the first weeks of the general strike, awaiting orders. While the country's transport network was at a standstill, dispatch riders distributed officially-sanctioned news via the Daily Herald, which had a circulation of 500,000 by the second week of industrial action.

The events that occurred on Black Thursday by this point need little elucidation, thus my own focus will remain as much as possible on the subsequent role played by the texts generated by these events on the battle for control over the feeling of the wider populace towards the industrial dispute. Also worthy of analysis is the fact of Black Thursday’s position as a watershed moment in the transition of action more generally from a dispute over coal into a dispute over the position of the working class in Britain. As I will argue, the importance of Black Thursday within a wider cultural analysis rests not on its immediate role in the intensification of a material and linguistic struggle against the Conservative government – although, naturally, this is not insignificant – but rather in its status as the moment when the presence of an existential threat to the working class posed by the British state was crystallised, and moved beyond the domain of conspiracy theory in the popular imagination.

At this juncture, it becomes instructive to move inquiry away from the popular domain for a time and towards the parliamentary. The shifting and mostly uneasy relationship between the militant workers movement and the parliamentary Labour Party is a phenomenon whose analysis is made possible in great part by the evolution of Ramsay MacDonald’s public statements surrounding the strike. In particular, it is revealing the extent to which his faith in the possibility of a purely parliamentary solidarity with the working class dictated his near total reliance on parliamentary mechanisms of opposition. MacDonald’s immediate and energetic appeals in the House of Commons for action against the government in the aftermath of the violence are representative of his opinion of the strike overall: enthusiastic so long as he was able to concentrate on the security of the working man and ignore the widespread militancy; at best well-meaning yet ineffectual, at worst deliberately restricted in its scope and swayed by the arguments for counter-revolution.

A parallel analysis is also afforded of Winston Churchill’s speaking tour of the country during that summer’s parliamentary recess. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between the forcefulness of his rhetoric in favour of “orderly and lasting settlement”, and the fact of his increasingly close relationship with the Q Divisions of the British Fascisti. Four decades after the fact, there exists neither hope nor desire to revise widely-held basic opinions of Churchill or his role in the downfall of the British state. In any event, such a task falls outside of my interest. Far more revealing is an examination of Churchill’s own attempt to control his public image through the use of text, both in the immediate context of 1927 and, later, with a view towards historical opinion. Notable in his case is the extent to which his undeniable powers of rhetoric hardly figure in the historical record; his speech has been almost entirely erased by his acts.

I will conclude with a study of Fifteen Weeks itself, attempting to unpick the murky disjunct between the apparent evolution of events – from localised industrial dispute to the verge of class struggle – and the picture of the first four months of strike action as described by A. J. Cook: as a series of battles for the very existence of the working class in Britain, only loosely framed in the context of a settlement to the question of the coal industry. In this way, I hope to arrive through the texts at some sort of answer to the question of what character did the revolution take? The answer to this question, needless to say, is complex and occasionally contradictory. While Cook resists giving one name to the character of the revolution – he was, of course, limited by circumstance – inevitably there are glimpses of conclusions present in Fifteen Weeks which evaded even his understanding. From this and other texts analysed below, I will attempt finally to carry over some lessons learnt of the character of the Commonwealth during the moment of its formation and apply them to the political situation as it rests today. Many of the original motivations that compelled working men and women to take up the struggle for their existence almost forty years ago have been obscured by the passage of time. With their fading memory, it becomes all too easy to lose sight of the potentiality offered by the very existence of the Commonwealth, as a site for the radical re-imagining of society against violent forces of ownership and exploitation. Through textual analysis, I argue it remains very possible to extract some of these original motivations – and, more beneficially, to apply them renewed to the critique of our own society.

Before proceeding any further with such a programme of analysis, it is worth offering as a final prefatory note some words of self-reflection. As in the case of all of the texts I examine in the following work, this book is itself a text born of its economic and political context. Namely, without occupying too much energy in what is, perhaps, an indulgent digression, it is worth stating that this texts exists within a continuing project, undertaken largely by myself over the past decade or so, engaged in the attempted formation of a theory of cultural materialism. The details of this theory-in-formation are still emergent, and in any case visible arguably not from any one work within the project but only, gradually, from inference by reference to the project as a whole. For clarity’s sake, however, it is possible to offer a definition of culture as a set of common meanings, produced via a mass process of personal and social experience, realised through personal agencies operating within a social superstructure itself referent to an economic base. In this case, I cannot help but recognise my own position as the author of this text within a network of writers and activists seeking to elevate the role of the personal within a wider framework of economic and historical understanding. This truth no doubt manifests itself in various ways throughout the following text.

I am of course indebted to numerous people who have assisted in the production of this book. I am grateful first of all to Professor Richard Hoggart and Dr. Stuart Hall at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies for their generous professional and material support throughout the process of researching this book. My lasting gratitude is due also to the Institute of Continuing Education for the award of a Senior Research Fellowship, without which I would not have been able to complete this work, as well as to my students and colleagues in the Faculty of English at the University of Manchester. Mr. Bert Ramelson at the TUC was an invaluable contact, without whom much of my research into the Daily Herald would have been impossible. I am similarly indebted to Ms. Margaret Cook for her patience and good grace in the face of my questions about her father’s work. There are many others whom, inevitably, I will have neglected to acknowledge. My gratitude to you all. The influence of Mrs. Joy Williams, a writer to whom I am related by the accident of marriage, is identifiable throughout this book. For her counsel and support in all things, academic and otherwise, she has my dedicated thanks and affection.


Raymond Williams (b. 1921) is a Welsh Marxist theorist whose work deals primarily with the relationships between language, culture and society. He is currently a Professor of Drama at the University of Manchester, where he is also director of the Centre for Adult Education. Reproduced above is the preface from his latest book, The Language of the Revolution: Key Texts in the Formation of the Commonwealth (London, 1966).
  • 2Like
  • 1Love
Always pleasing to see the impact of a good old general strike. You are teasing us a lot on said "world to come" though, I wonder if you plan on giving us any snippet of Fifteen Weeks next.
  • 1Like
  • 1Like
I don't know whether to be more impressed or concerned by your steadfast commitment to alt-historical accuracy.

What can I say, it's an excuse for fast writing and shoddy workmanship. :D

A televised debate between Roy Jenkins and Denis Healey over which prominent turn-of-the-revolution political figure bears the most responsibility for the destruction of the old order, (and why it is/isn't Asquith) set in a repurposed grammar school with Tony Benn presiding.

Obviously the answer is yes, this will happen. Wanna write Jenkins' part? :p

Always pleasing to see the impact of a good old general strike. You are teasing us a lot on said "world to come" though, I wonder if you plan on giving us any snippet of Fifteen Weeks next.

Indeed. The union makes us strong!

It's not the pamphlet itself, but the next update is written and gives a bit more of a flavour to the names and dates we've seen so far. I dare say Cook's literary work will feature at some point in the future, though.

Thanks J66185! Good to have you. :)

I've got the next update ready to go, but I'm going to hold it back a little just because I'll be busy over the next couple of weeks so I anticipate a bit of a slowing of momentum. (Who knows, I might even indulge in that bourgeois habit of editing before publication...) I am, however, having plenty of ideas for stuff I want to write about, so with any luck once I adjust to a new schedule I'll still have time for a little writing for pleasure.
  • 1
I just want to say that this is a lovely AAR, and that you've managed to at once make the alt-history seem plausible (at least to a non-Brit) and make the variety of texts have their own unique and interesting voices, which is extremely hard to do even when you have a lot of game material to draw from.
  • 1Like
I am loving the ever so unbiased account :)
  • 1Like
obviously the answer is yes, this will happen. Wanna write Jenkins' part? :p

Oh as a Lloyd Georgian I couldn't possibly defend Asquith. :p

I have to say I'm somewhat saddened by this update; the fact that it exists at all clearly indicates that Gramscians and Existentialists are not only a thing in this timeline, but in positions of relative power and influence within the party. That all but rules out the possibility of Revolutionary Britain falling into some dark Mosleyite dystopia.

Name-dropping Stuart Hall was also an interesting choice for obvious reasons. I take it Windrush will be featuring in a future update?
  • 1Like